Our vivid memory of this KL-born fashion designer was when we first interviewed him for Mifa8 Fashion Forward 2007 TV show (which we were producing), having won the title of MIFA Best Evening Wear Designer Award 2005, speaking to us with a great sense of pride, but more importantly what stayed fresh in our mind till today, at Palate Palette, that day, was his self-assured way of delivering his vision towards fashion and his eloquent words about how style should be, yet, in an unassumingly down to earth manner, which we love most.
Today, seven years later, we finally sat down again, this time, at his atelier situated at the heart of KL (Lee Rubber Building, to be precise), a gush of nostalgic sort of feeling filled our heart, and it was a great feeling to be able to have a face-to-face chat with someone whom we admire, not only for his talent as a fashion designer, but his passion and vision in delivering the best, to make a woman feel beautiful, in his signature way. This fashion designer friend, is none other than our homegrown JUSTIN YAP.
His passion for fashion, did not change, in fact, seven years on after creating his own fashion label, under his own name, Justin is now more matured (and with age comes better wisdom too, we feel), be it designing a piece or creating a whole collection for the recent KL Fashion Week 2014 and a special showcase piece for MODA Fashion Show 2014 at Publika. In fact, when we visited Justin, he was busy sewing this beautiful piece above for the showcase! Here is what we spoke about on that beautiful afternoon.
Have you always known that you were going to be a fashion designer?
Yes, since I was 12 years old. Coming from a Baba Nyonya family, my mother's side, Nyonya women have always been very crafty. Our women are good with not only food, but our tailoring. So, when I was young, I picked up the traits and talents from observing my grandmother and mother sewing at the household. That cemented my love for the art. There are four boys in the family and I am the second son. (In fact, Justin has a twin brother too! Just like me *_^). Yay, high 5!
What is your take on fashion?
All right, to me, being in trend doesn't mean you are trendy. I always believe in this - BUY fashion, WEAR style. What I mean is that fashion is something that you buy, but style is something that you create or own. You are what you wear. I design for women who lead, women who are confident of themselves and know what they want.
What sort of designer are you?
I am a designer who always keep my clients in mind, all the time. I listen to what they want and what is their need. I design for my clients, from the late 20s to mid 40s. There is no point in designing something that one does not wear at all. Clothes are meant to be worn, right?
Tell us a bit about your latest KL Fashion Week 2014 collection?
When I was designing the collection for this year's KL Fashion Week, I was designing for that urban strong powerful women in mind. My signature colour blocks is still visible within the collection, but I was also further enhancing my belief in juxtaposition of materials and textures, which is what I love to do. For instance, incorporating men's material, or using gray colour but give it that soft feminine touch to the piece. I also emphasize on contrast and a certain degree of edginess for this collection.
When we saw Justin's beautiful collection that day at the KL Fashion Week, we thought to ourselves: this is SO Justin, classic yet wearable on a day-to-day basis for a modern woman of today.
To you, personally, what is important in designing?
Wow, there are a lot that are involved when it comes to designing but it will always be about the details. Detailing to me is important. It is painstakingly long-hour hard work, but when you love what you do, that is what you will go the distance for, to make each piece beautiful, in your eyes. To me, designing is about having conversation with your creation. You need to be able to have an intimate conversation with your art work. That, to me, is what design is all about. I believe, these days, the artisan is dying. One needs to preserve that.
At that point, I did share a bit of his sentiment and feel a little of what Justin felt about the art of designing. When I asked about his possible showcase of a bridal collection, which he embarked on for the very first time, this was what he had to say.
"I was invited to do a bridal collection. It is my first time as well, designing wedding gowns. Just go with the flow, things happen for a reason. It is like how I got into designing menswear. I feel men are more stylish these days and pay more attention to fashion and what they wear."
Yes yes, we do agree with Justin on going with the flow. Life is about that too, we feel, especially of late. He also let us in on a small little secret of his. Actually, he does not like to design with the colour RED. He said, it's just not one of his favourite colours to work with *_^ We are sure you know by now that Justin is known for his signature hues of bold turquoise and clean, understated classic styles that shine an effervescent trend of its own.
Time flew by so fast, without us realizing that we had spent almost three hours talking to Justin and taking pictures as we went along. It was indeed a great conversation we had with this absolutely intelligent fashion designer that afternoon, which he so kindly spared his precious time for us (while rushing for his up-coming MODA piece and bridal collection then). It was truly a memorable moment, having seen that MODA piece in person, from its very infant stage of work, finally witnessing it later at the MODA fashion show, looking stunningly beautiful on the model that night. We enjoy seeing the creative process at work. Most definitely time consuming, but all worth while in the end, we feel.
We look forward to catching up with Justin again soon. Pictures of KL Fashion Week 2014, the Bridal Wear Collection and Justin Prestige Collection are courtesy of Justin Yap. More about his brand here. If you are curious as to who we have spoken to previously, check out our other FACES personalities here.
Till our next FACES personality feature, have an absolutely magical weekend ahead *_^